H1N1 vaccine shortage shakes up plans - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

H1N1 vaccine shortage shakes up plans

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County Public Health acknowledged today the nationwide H1N1 vaccine shortage means school children will have to wait weeks for clinics that were supposed to happen within days.

"We are officially out. Our supply in Public Health is exhausted, and the health care providers in town are at the end of their supplies, too," said Dr. Thomas Schlenker, director of Public Health for Madison and Dane County (PHMDC).

Three school clinics went as planned today at Midvale, Lincoln and Franklin elementary. But those could be the last ones for quite a while, as PHMDC is re-prioritizing where the next shipment of the vaccine needs to go.

PHMDC created a new high-risk category of people who will be first in line to receive the vaccine:

  • pregnant women
  • children under age four
  • people who live with infants under six months
  • health care workers who interact with patients
  • people under age 18 who have pre-existing health conditions

Meanwhile, researchers at Purdue University's math and statistics departments suggested the H1N1 virus could peak this upcoming weekend, based on mathematical formulas. Schlenker said he understands people's frustration with the shortage, but unfortunately, there's not much anyone at the local level can do.

"This is something that's happening 1,000 miles away in Washington, and it's not what we expected and it is making life complicated and difficult for a lot of people, but we just have to deal with it," said Schlenker.

The government originally predicted 40 million doses of vaccine would be available by the end of October. Now that number is down to 28 million.

Nobody can say why, but U.S. Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius insists more is coming out the door as soon as it is ready.

Still, a quick look around the country shows that's not soon enough.

In Chicago on Monday, people stood in long lines to get vaccinated, only to leave empty-handed.

"I know it's frustrating to wait in line and end up with no vaccine," said Sebelius, "but talk to your local health official, go on the website, get information at the local level and come back."

Receiving little communication from the federal government, all Schlenker and other local health officials can do now is wait.

Schlenker says Dane County is expecting the next shipment of the vaccine some time during the first week of November, but he says at this point, nothing is certain.

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